Kevin Allocca: Why videos go viral


Kevin Allocca is YouTube’s trends manager.


Over 48hrs of video are uploaded every minute, and only a tiny fraction of a percent get more than 1 million views. Going viral requires 3 things

  1. Tastemakers: influential people enjoying the video and reposting it
  2. Unexpectedness: With so much video out there, the viral videos have to be different.
  3. Participation: Others want to be a part of this, create parodies and meta-references.

He talks through examples of videos with these features:

  • Double-Rainbow’s views spiked massively when it was retweeted by Jimmy Kimmel (tastemaker)
  • Rebecca Black’s Friday went big when a few people (tastemakers) started posting about it. From there plenty more people referenced it or parodied it – within days there was a parody for every other day of the week (participation).
  • Nyan Cat is extremely strange (unexpected), but also very easy to remix with different background music, set it in a different place, or post meta-references such as a cat watching a cat watching nyan cat (participation).
  • A cyclist riding on the street protesting a ticket for not riding in the bike lane¬†Because his funny video had an unexpected twist, 5 million people (at time of TED talk, now 13 million) saw his protest.

We’re building a new type of culture where everyone has access and the audience decides popularity. This will define the entertainment of the future.

My Thoughts

Entertaining and light, but with an interesting perspective on Youtube.

Johnny Lee: Wii Remote hacks


Johnny Chung Lee is a Human-Computer Interaction researcher currently working at Google. Lee is best known for his work on Kinect development.


Researchers sometimes use vast resources to achieve their goal. Sometimes the best solution uses cheap, off-the-shelf products to do somethine similar. Johnny shows off some hacks taking advantage of the Wii-mote – a cheap game controller (~$40) with its motion sensing capabilities and infra-red camera.

  • With the right software, and a cheap infra-red pen (can be built for $5), the Wii-mote’s IR camera can simulate a digital white board (worth $3,000). This software¬†has been downloaded half a million times.
  • By putting the Wii-mote’s IR camera under a TV screen, and fitting a (cheap) IR sensor to the viewer’s head, the screen will track them. So as they move around the room, the 3D interface on screen will show them a different perspective. This could allow a new type of video games.

Johnny is also amazed at how these hacks have gained popularity – using Youtube. Within days of posting videos of these hacks, he was already seeing others imitating the work. He hopes in future Youtube will be used to its full potential by researchers to publish results.